BT West One



IRVINE powered into the top half of Tennent’s West 1 after destroying Stewartry at Marress to kick off 2019 in style.

The rampant hosts ran in 12 tries to banish the memory of October’s 60-22 drubbing at Greenlaw – and it could get even better for Kenny Glen’s side this Saturday with a visit to struggling Strathendrick to come and the Castle Douglas side – now only a point above Irvine in fifth – heading to promotion-chasing Allan Glen’s.

Irvine started as they meant to go on, and after Ian Kerr had been well-marshalled into touch in the Stewartry 22 and Taylor McHarg had been held up over the line, scrum-half Robbie McVey crashed over in the corner after a neat switch of play had drawn the visiting defence.

Paul Johnston was unable to land the conversion, but he was soon lining up another after Alan Nugent took a nice offload from Cody Cunningham and crossed next to the posts. He made no mistake this time to make it 12-0 after 10 minutes.

It was always going to be difficult for Irvine to maintain the level of intensity they had started with, and Stewartry came more into the game after this, albeit without seriously looking like turning their pressure into points.

Irvine eventually got back in their stride and McHarg – on a rare outing as a prop – who claimed the third try on the right just before the half hour, after a good drive by Chris Raymond into the visitors’ half.

They then had the bonus point in the bank by half-time with McVey breezing in for his second of the day to crown a searing break by Ruchin Filander, and Kerr notching the try he had threatened earlier in the corner. Johnston converted the former for a 29-0 half-time lead.

The visitors briefly threatened a comeback after the restart when centre David Steele broke the home side’s defensive line and darted in to give fly-half Craig Mosey an easy conversion.

This proved no more than a blip however, and by the time Steele claimed a second consolation try a minute from time – again converted by Mosey – Irvine had added a brace of interception tries through Paul Paterson as well as singles by Johnston, Chris Hobson, Cunningham, Raymond and Neil McMillan.

Johnston’s three conversions – and a cameo by Cunningham on McMillan’s try – rounded off the scoring.

* The 2nd XV are due to resume their Reserve West 2 campaign, also at Strathendrick, this Saturday.